Entrepreneurship: Resilience as a Source of Innovation
Two years after the start of the pandemic, let’s take a look back at this unique time in history. Whether it was an immediate loss of revenue, the need to initiate an accelerated digital transformation, the challenge of retaining staff or recruiting in an uncertain climate, or closure… all entrepreneurs without exception have been impacted by COVID-19.
The need to adapt and the incredible resilience of Quebec entrepreneurs have often been highlighted. A study conducted in 2021 by Étienne St-Jean and Marc Duhamel, professors at the School of Management of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), reveals that many entrepreneurs in Quebec were able to survive the pandemic thanks to their resilience and entrepreneurial vigilance, and that they stood out internationally.
According to Mounia Azzi, Vice President of Program Development and Partnerships at adMare BioInnovations, an innovation cluster dedicated to developing Canada’s life sciences, “COVID has been a historic force of change in so many ways – and we are just beginning to fully process the challenges it created, the lessons it taught, and the opportunities it has presented.”
Adapting to Innovate
As the pandemic has revealed, the economic environment can change abruptly. How can you remain agile as a company or organization in an environment that can suddenly shift? One aspect that has emerged is the need to adapt. Many companies at the Centech, an incubator that supports more than 90 high-tech and medtech companies, have gone through a real transformation but have managed to pull through.
“For some, the industry they’ve known for a very long time was paused, and still is today. It is a very difficult situation for these entrepreneurs, but we have seen a tremendous amount of resilience, and we are proud of that. For others, it was an opportunity to rethink their business model, or even to develop a solution to a problem that was not yet known before the crisis. One example is the company Teaméo, which saw a new way to enable collaborations between teachers and students, and this new way is setting a new standard for the future,” explains Martin Enault, Chief Entrepreneur in Residence, Centech.
Martin Enault also mentions GPHY as an example of a company that has seized the opportunity to offer a solution tailored to the new reality of work, since the workplace will never be the same again.
The ability of companies to innovate has been a significant lever to get through the crisis. Without a doubt, in the case of the Centech, this was also possible thanks to the support of this robust ecosystem.
Ecosystems Supporting Innovation
Mounia Azzi also emphasizes the importance of a connected ecosystem, even more so in the context of a crisis, to support businesses and, more generally, to accelerate innovation.
“We also know that innovation thrives in dynamic, well-connected ecosystems, particularly when those ecosystems exist under common physical infrastructure. For us, what is more strikingly clear than ever though, is that a strong and sustainable domestic life sciences sector is indispensable to supplying innovation, driving economic recovery, and growth.”
At adMare, several resident companies have seized the opportunity to innovate, and in some cases, to get involved in the fight against COVID-19. For example, biotech company Molecular Forecaster began working on an initial pandemic response project in January 2020, even before the alert was issued in the country. Its work to advance research and projects related to COVID-19 continues to this day.
“adMare’s multi-tenant Innovation Centre in the Technoparc Montréal operates as central hub that affords companies the opportunity to grow and maintain their operations in Montreal – while amplifying and accelerating critical R&D for innovation and commercialization even in turbulent times,” adds Mounia Azzi.